Industrial safety specialist Castell has redesigned its manufacturing process to increase flexibility and reduce delivery times. As a result, the company has received the Manufacturing Excellence award for 2012 from its parent company Halma, beating off competition from 40 other Halma subsidiaries.
According to Halma, "Castell has transformed its manufacturing capability through a combination of product design innovation, excellent application of lean manufacturing and an ambition for international expansion. Today it has an incredibly efficient UK manufacturing base and an assembly shop in the Halma China hub, which is now making the majority of company output."
Traditionally, trapped key interlocking systems could only be produced once the key coding details had been received, leading to long delivery times while the system was confirmed. Three years ago Castell introduced the end-coding system, which meant that products could be built and then coded at the end of the manufacturing process. This dramatically reduced the time in which products could be delivered.
"End-coding had a significant impact on our ability to deliver standard products quickly and enabled us to make a step change in how we delivered our products," explained Keith Allingham, Castell’s operations director.
All Castell products with ‘FS’-style locks are now end coded, which has given the company the opportunity to rethink its whole manufacturing process. The result has been a complete redesign of the manufacturing floor, so that manufacturing flows from end to end, assembly cells flow seamlessly into in-line test facilities where products are fully tested and coded, and products are then passed to in-line packing and despatch. The results have been dramatic: orders that would have taken weeks to build and ship can now be despatched in days, improving levels of service and customer response time.
David Hughes, sales director, commented: "Customers have told us that their lead times have been significantly reduced. In some cases this has gone from between eight and ten weeks to between eight and ten days or less for full switchgear systems. This has meant that we have had to respond. The work that has gone in to implementing the new manufacturing system really enables us to harness the benefits of end-coding. Being competitive in the marketplace means that having a high quality product is no longer enough – delivery is also key. Since we have gone live with the manufacturing redesign, our delivery performance has improved significantly. This will benefit our customers in a big way."